Alaska Airlines Is Getting Rid of This for Flights, Starting March 1
The carrier is making a major change next month.
The airline industry has been inundated with a number of changes over the last two years, largely due to disruptions brought on by the COVID pandemic. Some of these modifications, like blocking middle seats and banning alcohol on board, have since been reverted back for almost all airlines. But a new year always brings about its own adjustments to air travel, such as flight routes being axed or added to carrier schedules. And now, Alaska Airlines has announced that it is set to make its own change for flights starting March 1. Read on to find out what the carrier is getting rid of next month.
Alaska Airlines is getting rid of its current loyalty program.
If you're a frequent flyer with Alaska Airlines, you should prepare for a number of upcoming changes to the carrier's loyalty program. According to The Points Guy, several adjustments with the airline's Mileage Plan will go into effect on March 1. One of the major changes will affect members trying to redeem first-class awards on Alaska's flights with their miles. The travel site reported that the carrier is raising the maximum number of miles by more than 35 percent for some flights.
On flights between 1,401 and 2,100 miles, the maximum amount of miles you might have to spend for first class is going up from 60,000 miles to 70,000 miles next month. And then on flights longer than 2,100 miles, the mileage maximum is getting increased to 95,000 miles from 70,000. But there are no changes planned for the minimum number of miles required or for the main cabin mileage range.
"In practice, you should only encounter these peak rates during busier travel periods or when booking one of the last available seats on a flight," The Points Guy said. "When there's saver-level availability, you should be able to book awards at the lowest award rate. But there is no guarantee."
Changes to this program will also affect one of Alaska's partner carriers.
Alaska Airlines and American Airlines have a partnership that allows members of Alaska's Mileage Plan to book flights with the other carrier by using their Alaska miles. But the perks of this benefit are also changing on March 1. Starting next month, Alaska is removing caps for American Airlines award flights in U.S. and Canada, so American flights booked with Alaska miles will no longer have fixed rates. Currently, one-way rates are 12,500 miles for the main cabin and 25,000 miles for business classes.
Instead, American award flights will have starting prices and then "vary depending on demand," meaning it might get more expensive to redeem your Alaska miles for these trips. "Needless to say, if you want to play it safe, book any upcoming American award flights now and cancel later if necessary," The Points Guy advised.
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Alaska Airlines has defended its upcoming changes.
According to The Points Guy, Alaska Airlines is defending the plans for how it is changing its old loyalty program. "We consistently work to balance offering great value for our members in the areas that are most valuable and meaningful while maintaining economics that work for our business," an Alaska Airlines spokesperson told the travel site.
A spokesperson for the airline also told the travel site in the beginning of Feb. 2022 that it has been several years since the carrier had actually made any changes to its award pricing. "Pricing adjustments are sometimes necessary as demand and market conditions change, and in this case, these changes better allow us to continue to balance the mix of awards, revenue passengers, and upgrades in our first class cabin," they said.
The carrier also said that it is still rather easy for members to earn miles.
According to Alaska Airlines, its adjustment to higher redemption rates is offset by its higher earning rates. The Points Guy reports that loyalty members will always earn at least one mile per mile flown on Alaska flights. "We think you can agree that our Mileage Plan program is very generous with our distance-based earn, which makes it much easier to accumulate miles for travel than revenue-based programs," the airline spokesperson told the travel site. "That has to be taken into account when looking at the value a program provides compared to looking at redemption prices alone"
Based on Alaska's average fares and domestic trip length, a general member of its Mileage Plan would need to only spend about $4,200 on flights to earn 40,000 miles, according to the spokesperson. "Accumulating that same number of miles in a revenue-based program would require $8,000 in flight purchases," they said.